Welcome to Decembers series on 31 Days of Giving on a Budget. In this series, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories from my readers and posts with practical ways to give — even on a limited income.
If you have a Giving on a Budget story to share of a way you or your family has given to others this year or this holiday season, please email me your story and a picture to go along with it, if possible. I’d love to hear it and possibly share it during this series!
A guest post by Jody
My grandmother is ninety-eight years old, and until she fell six months ago she was still living relatively self-sufficiently at home. Her independence was important to her, and so she was still making most of her own meals.
Like the ideal farmer’s wife, she had spent a lifetime making spreads of pot roast, mashed potatoes, applesauce, green beans, corn, gravy, rolls, apple pie, pecan pie, butterscotch pie and cherry pie – the woman could make some pie!
At ninety-eight she just didn’t have it in her to do all that anymore. About twice a week she would make enough Cream of Wheat to last for a few days. For lunch and dinner she made simple things like grilled cheese or bread and butter. Besides that, she just couldn’t eat very much, so it seemed pointless to cook an actual meal.
During this time she started paying a service to provide meals a few times a week, but couldn’t quite boast of the flavor. We knew it was bad when my parents’ dog (who eats everything) was left in the car with one of the meals and refused to touch the main course. When even the dog won’t eat your meat, you know it’s bad!
Living over fifteen hundred miles away, I was at a loss as to how to help. I was concerned that she was not getting enough variety or nutrition in her diet, and I knew that it was quite a feat for her to pull together even the simplest of meals.
But, I had an idea!
Last November when I was there for Thanksgiving, we had our usual feast at her house — the kids and grandkids did the cooking. Despite the gluttony, there were still plenty of leftovers.
So, I pulled out her muffin tins and went to work. Using one leftover at a time, I filled the muffin tins with all the typical Thanksgiving fixings. When a tray was full I put it in the freezer and pulled it out a couple of hours later. I would let it sit a couple of minutes to loosen the food from the edges, then I would dump out the cubes, put them back into the freezer and move on to the next leftover.
I thought about putting all of the little circles into Ziploc bags according to what they were, but then decided that would be too complicated for her to get all of those bags out for one meal. Instead, I utilized her endless collection of empty cottage cheese containers. I put a cube of each item into each container, so that all she would have to do would be to pull one container out of the freezer, arrange the items on a skillet or a plate for the microwave and presto! She would have a nutritious meal of very little portions with plenty of variety and hardly any work to get it.
Since I did this at Thanksgiving, I didn’t need to do any extra food preparation for this — however I started wondering if other people would want to incorporate this kind of thing into their freezer cooking days. It could be helpful for the elderly or even a single person who wouldn’t likely be able to eat an entire lasagna or casserole if it was offered to them.
Some tips I would have for doing this would be to:
- Ask about any dietary restrictions.
- Label the container with large print.
- Attach any directions.
- Write a note of encouragement or a smiley face.
Compared to all of the meals my grandma has made me over the years, I know this is just a drop in the bucket, yet I hope to bless her as she has blessed me.
Jody loves cooking in huge portions and is still learning to try a recipe out in a multiple of one before doing eight batches at once – and then realizing it’s not such a good recipe – and then eating that from the freezer for a very long time.
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